Tantebane Game Ranch Botswana to Bulawayo Zimbabwe

I spent 3 nights at Tantebane Game Ranch. The first night it was packed with a large group of South Africans travelling together. When I woke up the next morning, they were all packing up and left, leaving me alone.

I did a final fix on the broken storage box, plus some other fibreglass fixes. I did some washing, some gluing and fixed some electrical things. It was nice to stay put for two days straight.

On Wednesday morning I set off for the Zimbabwe border. I stopped at the last servo in Botswana to squeeze as much diesel in the tank as possible. Then I exited Botswana, all very simple and straight forward.

It was then the unknown of the Zimbabwe border. I got through immigration in about 30 minutes. I was handled by three different staff and paid $30USD for a visa with my crisp new $USD notes. Then it was off to customs. I had done a eTip on line the previous day. This seemed all OK. I was told to pay $50 USD at the payment counter and given an invoice to take. I do that, thank the guy and go back to the car. First checkpoint they ask for my TIP (temporary import permit), and I show them my reference number for my eTIP, and they are fine with that and I head up to the next checkpoint. The next guy says I don’t have the right stamp on one of the pieces of paper, and I have to drive back and get it stamped. After asking about 3 different people I finally get the right stamp. I pass the next checkpoint, but I have to see two guys in a hut who are eating lunch. I see them and without even glancing at my wad of papers they say I am fine. I then go to the next checkpoint. They say I have to go and see the guy in a different hut. He says I don’t have a printout of my eTIP. So I drive back again and see two different guys until I get to the original guy that I organised the TIP with. He hands over my printed eTIP which I should have collected after I paid. (Sort of my fault, I should have thought of that). Then it is back through the two checkpoints and the guy in the hut, and finally I can leave, after about two hours.

Then its the drive to Bulawayo about 13km away. I get waved through one police checkpoint. I pay $4USD toll at the toll booth about 100km down the road. Outside Bulawayo I hit another Police checkpoint, and they pull me over. After the questions about where I am going etc, the (rather large) Police woman asks me for money because she is hungry. I eventually give in and give her the $1USD note I got as change from the toll payment.

I got into Bulawayo, stopping at the Zonkizizwe shopping centre for a sim card and some supplies. I then contacted Karen, and briefly met her at her lodge, before heading the the Hillside Conservancy for a campsite for the night.

pelicans on the water hole
My second attempt to make another mud flap.
All the solar panels out in cloudy weather
Heating up the donkey boiler for a shower
On the (quite good) road to Bulawayo
Approaching the Toll booth
The daily exchange rate at the Pick n Pay supermarket for the ZIG currency, which I have not seen anyone have. The cash registers at the supermarket had USD$
Camped with power (well until the loadshedding) at Hillside conservancy

Woodlands camp Francistown to Tantebane Game Ranch

Another cold morning, it got to 5C inside the camper. I was reluctant to start the diesel heater too early because its a bit noisy.  I packed up and headed back to Francistown. I visited the Spar and one of the -a least three- shopping centres in Francistown. I got even more supplies, convinced, probably wrongly, that I will not be able to get anything in Zimbabwe. I then visited another Builders to get some contact cement and this aluminum angle I am seeking. When I walked in I was offered free popcorn, and interesting incentive to get customers to shop on a Sunday morning. I managed this time to get my Aluminum angle and proceeded to cut it in half with a hacksaw so I could fit it in the roof.

Then off to the Puma service station where I filled Clancy and four jerry cans, 146 litres, as fuel is cheap in Botswana, and expensive, or hard to get in Zimbabwe.

Then it was up the road towards Tantebane, and after that the Zimbabwe border. I got to Tantebane, and was directed to my campsite. A few campers already here (South Africa school holidays…), and it does seem they have crammed as many in as possible. However I am here for three nights, and I have got a good campsite well separated from other campers. No mains power so I set up the solar panels to keep me powered. I am now 45km from the Zimbabwe border.

Tropic of Capricorn wild camp to Woodlands camp Francistown

Cold morning, it got down to 4C. I used the diesel heater again. This morning it was time for some maintenance. I spent a couple of hours doing a long delayed oil change. About 9am a man rode past bareback on a donkey. Once I had done the oil change and filter replacement, I headed the 12km back to the A1 highway. A quick photo of the Tropic of Capricorn sign, and it was heading north to Francistown. I stopped at the Foodlovers supermarket at Palapye to see if they had any better apples, but decided they didn’t. Palapye is another Botswana town that has undergone huge growth, and looks nothing like it did when I first visited it 9 years ago.

The day was getting on. My late start because of the oil change in the morning meant I was running out of time to get to Woodlands north of Francistown before dark. I hit afternoon peak hour going through Francistown. A quick Police stop just north of Francistown, and I was at the turnoff to Woodlands. I got into Woodlands about 5 minutes before sunset. Woodlands was packed out with South Africans with lots of kids, which got me to find out that it was the start of the South African school holidays.  Woodlands is a pretty nice campsite, lots of grass, and its probably my third stay there.

Back on the highway at the Tropic of Capricorn
Heading north amongst the trucks on the A1
Another lunch time stop of the highway
Camped on the grass at Woodlands



Wild camp east of Ralekgetho to Mokolodi Backpackers

My fibreglass repairs again were not completely dry because of the cold overnight temperatures. However I was making progress.

I got going once it had warmed up and headed the 120km to near Gaberone at Mokolodi Backpackers. I wanted to finish early so I could do more fibreglassing while it was warm in the middle of the day.

Along the way I stopped at an Engen service station. I walked past a man who was fixing something, and he said, “can I just tell you something?” . I was expecting a scam of some sort but he said “I have a friend who can get Ivory”. I told him I wasn’t interested. Is there an underground market for Ivory in Botswana?

I arrived around lunch time at Mokolodi Backpackers. A very nice place to stay at, and it seemed there was only one other guest other than me. More fibreglassing ensured.

Camped at Mokolodi Backpackers

Wild camp North of Kokotsha to wild camp east of Ralekgetho

The night was cool. The fibreglass from my repairs had mostly dried, but the temperature was not ideal. However it was strong enough to hold up without anything in it. I got going and stopped a few kms down the road for breakfast.  Then it was about 50km up the highway until Sekoma. Thats where I met up with the main highway the A2. I decided to stop near a fuel stop to ring up Mascom to get my sim card registered. However they told me to go to a post office. The nearest one was Jwaneng about 80km away.

I got to Jwaneng, found the Post Office, but there was a big queue. I asked the security guard if there was a Mascom shop, and there was. Asking someone else I eventually found it. So I sat in the queue and got someone to help me register my sim. However she couldn’t do it either. She said the IT support people were out for lunch. So I went to pick n pay, got some bananas and went back to Mascom at 2pm. She tried again, and again couldn’t get me registered. After more than an hour including multiple phone calls, she eventually got my sim registered and I was back on the internet.

I continued heading east and stopped at a wild camp suggested on iOverlander near an old quarry. Old quarries make good wild camps. I set up camp and proceeded to apply more fibreglass to repair the box.

It was quiet peaceful night, albeit cold.

Camped at the wild camp in an old quarry


Kameel South Africa to wild camp North of Kokotsha, Botswana

Two nights stay in Kameel. I walked up to the NW co-op store to get some more bits and pieces. I added outside lights and checked a few more things. Patrick provided his customary loaf of freshly baked bread.

I left Tuesday morning for the 205km drive to Bray the border crossing to Botswana. Bray is out of the way, but its small size and remoteness mean I have less hassles crossing the border. I drove first to Stella, then headed north-west. The road was pretty good at the start. About 100km in, it deteriorated down to a single sandy track, but still was not too difficult. I passed two trucks and six cars, so it wasn’t exactly busy.

I got to the border, to be slightly surprised there were two police there. Last crossing there was no-one but the immigration person. The police looked at the vehicle, but were mostly interested in whether I had any “drinks”. I didn’t have any drinks, but I have had on previous border crossings, so I must remember to be more organised next time. I eventually felt sorry for them and gave them 100Rand to buy “drinks”.

I met a woman at the border who worked at the medical centre and was just crossing the border into Botswana to get fuel. She did it sometimes as often as once a week.

I got to the Botswana side and got my road tax and passport stamped. I applied what I had learnt from a guide at a previous Botswana border crossing. When they ask how long you are going to be in Botswana tell them much longer than you intend to be. if something goes wrong and you need to stay in Botswana longer, it is very difficult and time consuming to get an extension.

I got a Mascom sim at the general store on the Botswana side. They used a special scanner to scan my passport to register my sim, but it failed after three attempts. So I headed off with no internet towards Werda.  The road from the border to Werda is fairly corrugated. I stopped once, but when I got to Werda I kept going hoping to make a wild camp on a cutline about 50km north. I turned off at the cutline, which is a sort of boundary firebreak between districts. I drove about a kilometre along the cutline until I met another cutline heading north, and I went up that. I stopped to have a look at the surrounding scrub when I suddenly found that part of the camper had broken. The rear box had separated from the camper and was hanging on by only one side.  I knew I would have to be doing some fibreglass repairs that night. I pulled of the cutline into the scrub and made camp.

I emptied the box, and it seemed like I had not lost any equipment. I suspect I had driven at least 50km with this break. I used two jacks to jack the box back in line, then proceeded to fibreglass it back together. It took me a couple of hours sanding and applying glass tape and epoxy in the dark. I hoped it would be enough to hold the box in place, so that I could fibreglass it more next day. I knew it wouldn’t hold any weight initially.

It was a quiet night after that. Just the sound of cattle wandering past, and occasional cars on the highway a km away.

Camped at Kameel
Patrick’s wonderful home made bread
The road from Stella to Bray in South Africa
The broken fibreglass storage box
I never noticed it in my side mirror it was too low
It was full of recovery gear
Looking underneath
Camped at sunset getting to work on fixing things
Jacking up the box ready to fibreglass it back in place




Bela Bela to Johannesburg

I packed up at the strange campground of Marula Oase, leaving all these Caravans jammed together. I headed south back on the N1. I had found an inverter repairer at Sandton. It was Saturday, so I didn’t rate my chances that they were there, but I had to try and see if I could get my inverter fixed.

The N1 was pretty busy. It dawns on you after travelling in so much of Africa, that Johannesburg is so enormous and so rich.

I eventually got to the inverter repairer, and with amazing luck a worker was there to do some cleaning, and I left my inverter with them. Then it was a 60km drive from that part of Johannesburg to another part of Johannesburg the campground at Benoni. At about 2:45pm I pulled in to the campground getting back to where I had started. I had four days until I flew out, so time to do some repairs, and get Clancy ready for at least 6 months of storage.

Palapye Botswana to Bela Bela South Africa

A long and eventful day. I was going out of Palapye by 8:30am. I had 350km and a border crossing to get to the caravan park at Modimolle. I could bail at the Big Fig campground near the border, if the border crossing went bad.

So down the A1 turn off towards Martins Drift. Its a 100km fairly straightforward drive. I get close to the Botswana border post, and the trucks start piling up. I get past the trucks, and the Botswana border post is nearly empty. So ten minutes and I am out. Then its across the single lane bridge that crosses the Limpopo and can be jammed with trucks. However I am in luck and I get straight across, then I hit the truck traffic jam at the RSA border. There seems to be no gate guard, different from last time. I have done this border post I think 4 times, and its always different. I manage to squeeze past the trucks to the car parking area. I go to immigration, and ask a truck driver if we have to show our vax certificates at a different building, but he says they don’t care about the vax certificates anymore.  I go to the immigration window, and explain to the immigration guy that I just need a transit visa of 7 days because I am flying out. He gives me a month, (I think) its hard to read.

Then off to the Customs window for a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for Clancy. I can see the book through the window with all the previous TIP’s written in the book, so I know I am at the right place. Eventually a woman comes in and opens the window. I pass over my rego papers and say I want a TIP. She asks where is the vehicle registered, I answer Australia. She says you don’t need one and waves me on. I am totally confused. Is this Customs laziness? or have the rules changed? or are Australian cars unlikely to be imported into RSA or what? So I enter South Africa, without a TIP.

I manage to squeeze myself into the truck queue, which is being held up by the Police inspection point further up. I have been through this inspection point before. I have no idea what the Police and looking for. I open up some flaps they have a cursory look and wave me on. This Police inspection point clags up the whole border post, for I don’t know what benefit.

I must also point out I crossed a whole country, namely Botswana, without once being stopped by the Police. Although there were police doing checks, they just didn’t check me.

So I stopped after the border post to get my MTN sim working and hit the road. I stopped at Mokopane (after getting caught in a 30minute traffic jam out of town) at a PnP to get some more supplies. Then onto the N1. I had 100km to get to Modimolle, on the N1, should be easy.

I went through one toll booth, then the second. The second toll plaza, had lots of traffic, and I was weaving around trying to get into the right queue when someone called out, and eventually I realised I had a flat tyre. So changing a tyre in the middle of a toll plaza with dozens of cars wizzing around. I shifted to a toll lane that was out of use. I got my safety triangles out, and my Hi-viz vest and got to work. It was close to dusk, but in 20 minutes I had it changed and got going. I went through the toll both, and out the other side. I turned on my lights, and the engine started cutting out. If I turned my lights off the engine was fine. I couldn’t understand what was wrong. Then down the road I stop at a service station, I measure battery voltages and try to figure out what is going on, but I can’t figure it out. I leave the servo, head south and then realise in all the confusion I had missed the turnoff to Modimolle, and I was stuck on the N1 heading south with an engine that was cutting in and out. I eventually got off the N1 at the turn-off to Bela Bela. I stopped at another servo, and figured out that my engine was cutting out because the oil pressure switch was momentarily turning off. This was still a voltage problem, but I knew I could disconnect the oil pressure switch, and at least drive with out the cutting out. So I drove into Bela Bela. It was 43km back to Modimolle, so I though I have to find something at Bela Bela. The options on iOverlander are not good. I try WarmBaths, a huge resort in the middle of Bela Bela. They want $A75 for a nights camping, I tell them no. I head up the road 6km to option 2. They want $A65 for a nights camping. I say no, but they so point me to a cheaper one about a km away. I am running out of options. I roll up and they open up reception for me. Its $A38, still enormous, but I don’t argue. I am camped amongst dozens of other caravans. Its all very strange.

The truck queue outside Martins Drift
Working through the queue at the RSA border
Changing a flat tyre at a Toll Plaza


Moorings Farm to Livingstone

Campsite at Moorings farm was good, because it was 2km from the road, and thus very quiet. Everyone left before me, I got to the main road by 9am. It was 350km to Livingstone.

Pretty uneventful drive. I passed a town around lunch time that advertised a Steers, which is a South African burger chain. I thought a chicken burger would make nice lunch. It cost 75 Kw and I handed over 100Kw, but as is typical of Zambia they don’t have enough change. It takes an extra 5 minutes to come up with 25Kw change (just over $A2). The campsite at Moorings charged 140Kw, but they cannot change 150Kw I gave them (less than $A1), so I paid 150Kw. Same with Wildlife Camp at Mfuwe, it cost me an extra 20Kw because they could not give me change. I find it interesting that the supplier of the service is never willing to take the loss.

I stopped at the side of the road for a stretch, then went to start the car, and nothing.  I had no ignition at all. I thought this is not good, as the battery failed already? A bit of investigation showed a broken fusible link. I think the link probably stretched under load with all the temporary cabling putting the AGM battery in. I temporarily fixed the link and everything was good.

I got to Livingstone, stopped at the Shoprite, which was the most supplied one ever. I bought some pink lady apples. Then off to Thorn Tree lodge, about 2km from Victoria falls. There are elephant droppings everywhere, the lady who greeted me said they were here a few minutes ago. I can hear the helicopters making flights over the falls. I will go and see the falls tomorrow.  I have seen the falls from the Zambezian side, tomorrow from the Zambian side.

After that its 75km to the Botswana border.

Broken down not starting, but I find the faulty fusible link
Camped at Thorn Tree lodge about 2km from Victoria falls
A motto to live by, at the bar at Thorn Tree lodge


Mfuwe to east of Nyimba

I stayed two nights at Wild Camp. The Elephants came and went. I was rotating the tyres when an Elephant approached and a staff member told me to be careful. When I came out of the shower block the second night, the night security warned me of an elephant hiding in the trees next to the shower block. I sat on the Luwangwa River both nights to watch the sunset and animal show. Definitely a good campsite, I hope to return.

So I emailed a couple of battery providers and one came back with a branch in Lusaka that has the replacement battery I want. So I loaded up with water, rotated the tyres, and greased the universal joints, ready for the 700km to Lusaka.

I got going by 8:30am. Stopped in Mufuwe for fuel. Got caught up in some enormous gathering with 100’s of people on the way to Chipita, that I had no idea what it was about. Once I got on the T4, all went pretty smoothly. A couple of toll booths, where they wanted to check my border purchased road toll plus pay 20Kw toll.

I stop just on dusk at an IOverlander wild camp east of Nyimba. I had to get the fibreglass gear out. I had to re-fibreglass the latch on one of the flaps, and the aluminum strip at the back of the camper, that has partially ripped off when I went down a steep embarkment and also broke the hose connection. This is the seventh month that Clancy has been travelling in Africa, so some wear and tear is to be expected.

Elephants helping rotate the tyres
Sunset on the Luangwa River
Driving the quite nice T4
Camped off the T4